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If you were president, who would you bomb?

 
 
snood
 
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 05:36 am
Being POTUS ain’t for sissies.

Sometimes discussions take a silly direction when people talk about foreign affairs — specifically the role of the US military. And it happens with all kinds of people doing the talking; not just with everyday schmoes like you and me who can claim ignorance if pressed, but also with newscasters from major networks and talking heads who tout themselves as experienced in matters of politics, diplomacy, and national security.

The general silliness I’m referring to generally takes the form of handwringing and pearl-clutching about the brutality or insensitivity or inhumanity or just plain old inconsiderateness of a certain policy or action directed by the commander-in-chief.

The first time this silliness really made an impression on me (in the way things do sometimes… and a voice in my head goes “hmm, I have some thoughts on that matter”) was when Obama was president, and some very liberal liberals were critiquing the inhumanity of Obama’s use of drone strikes against US enemies. Obama’s aim was to keep up the war with Al Qaeda while extricating military personnel from intractable and costly (both in treasure and US lives) ground wars. In trying to do this, he ramped up the use of attack drones to ten times the level used by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

What was giving the liberal liberals the red ass was that these drone strikes were not the surgically precise tools of war that some people said they were. Civilians were being killed. Women and children and total bystanders. Under Obama, not only were there ten times the number of drone attacks launched, but there were ten times the number of civilian deaths resulting from those attacks.

Let’s for the purpose of brevity assume that the numbers quoted about Obama’s drone attacks are accurate. It certainly raises questions. And the angry, accusatory, disappointed tone of those questions is certainly understandable — those “collateral damage” statistics were innocent human beings.

There are a couple of questions that were raised in my mind, though, that I didn’t see any of the TV pundits and hand-wringing critics asking. Questions like “What is he supposed to do?”, or even “What would I do?”

Every president has had to accept within himself, sometime before he raised his hand and took the office, that he might have to direct the taking of human life if he thinks it is in defense of this country. It’s part of the deal. It’s the same pact with oneself that I made when I joined the Army in 1990. Desert Shield was brewing in the ME (and it soon became Desert Storm). Before I went in, I had some quiet moments with myself when I had to settle with the idea that this oath includes potentially taking a weapon and using it to kill someone.

If you had been president, would you have done nothing, and let the troop levels stand as they were; the ground wars grind on unaltered? Because all the wishful thinking in the world wasn’t going to make Al Qaeda just go home and take up basket weaving.

You might think it’s ridiculous or unrealistic to frame the discussion in terms of what you or I would do if we oversaw the military. The argument can be made that when a person is president, they get intelligence briefings and have resources that they can draw on to help them make those heavy decisions — intelligence and resources that regular people don’t have. So therefore, we can’t say what we would do; we just know that what Obama did was wrong.

I say that’s silly. I criticize presidents all the time. But I always allow for the possibility that you might not know WHAT you would do regarding war, until and unless you are the person responsible for making those international life and death decisions. My one exception to that is George Bush’s decision to invade Iraq after 9–11. I thought that was a stupid decision based on a lie then, and I think it was a stupid decision based on a lie now.

There’s a lot of handwringing and Monday morning quarterbacking going on about the disastrous, lightning-quick takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

What would you have done? We were in Afghanistan for 20 years. Long enough for a child to watch his father deploy there, then grow up, join the military and deploy there himself. Four presidents have wrestled with it. If you count military and contractors, over 6000 Americans have died in the war in Afghanistan. We tried to train them to fight for themselves. We tried to engage the Taliban diplomatically. We bombed them and sent troops and prayed and agonized over Afghanistan for 20 years.

We ALL knew the Taliban were not nice people. We ALL knew they would come back when we left. Biden had a son who was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in that war. He didn’t make the decision lightly. He agreed with most Americans who have been answering in polls that they want us out of Afghanistan for years and years.

THERE. WAS. NO. “GOOD”. WAY. FOR. US. TO. LEAVE.

“It’s a crushing defeat” “It’s an intelligence failure” “It’s a foreign policy failure” “We should have stayed” “We should have given the Afghanis more warning” “We let our allies down” “We’ve destroyed our allies’ trust” “We should have known better”

…and my favorite, “HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED?!”

It goes on and on and on…
…and it’s silly.
I don’t know what I would have done.

And I’m glad as hell someone else has to make those decisions.
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hightor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 06:29 am
@snood,
Drone strikes are not risk-free, and civilians can be unintended casualties. But the level of destruction is minuscule compared to the widespread environmental damage and loss of life caused by armored assaults and full-scale battles at the brigade level.



snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 06:46 am
@hightor,
Yes. That didn’t deter a lot of uber liberals from reaming Obama for his use of drones.
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 06:55 am
If Obama could have been perceived as making progress toward peace I am sure he could have quieted his critics.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 07:43 am
@edgarblythe,
People have different perceptions.
People’s perceptions can be totally divorced from objective truth.
That’s how some Americans can list Obama as the best president ever, and some can list him as the worst.

And as for silencing his critics… If Obama had literally walked on water, a lot of his critics would have had “Obama Can’t Swim” as the next day’s headline.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 07:50 am
@snood,
I am focused only on the war. There was no shift in the direction of peace in a substantial way until Trump finally caved and ordered the withdrawal. Which was really the better option over another twenty years of it.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 07:53 am
In my opinion Afghanistan was a mistake from the very beginning. There was no other way for this to end.

This is the "White Savior" story all over again.... the brown-skinned Afghanis need America and Britain to come in and save brown-skinned women from the brown-skinned men. This whole "save the women" story is truly ridiculous.

It is not our culture. It is not our country. We have no right to tell them what to do. We should never have been there in the first place.

Many Afghans (the people who actually own the country) choose the Taliban over the American installed government. If you think the Taliban is evil, that should tell you something.

Now the Afghans have their country back. They don't need us to save them. They will figure this out on their own.

This was actually one of the best outcomes we could have hoped for. The takeover by the Taliban (which was always going to happen) was accomplished with a fairly minimal amount of bloodshed.
snood
 
  2  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 08:04 am
On August 16th, in the year 2021, I Snood agreed with the majority of a post written by Maxdancona.
Fear the Apocalypse.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 09:11 am
@snood,
Max and I have similar opinions on the war. It is all here on this thread.
https://able2know.org/topic/560540-1
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 09:47 am
@snood,
On August 16th, in the year 2021, I hightor also agreed with the majority of a post written by Maxdancona.

Shocked

0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 10:29 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

If Obama could have been perceived as making progress toward peace I am sure he could have quieted his critics.

It's quite a contradiction if we note that it was an unnecessary war, but still defend the killing of large numbers of civilians, which happened with all three presidents in Afghanistan.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 10:41 am
@edgarblythe,
Who’s defending killing civilians?
0 Replies
 
hightor
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Aug, 2021 11:13 am
HCR wrote:
(...)

Already, Republicans are trying to blame the Taliban’s success in Afghanistan on Biden, ignoring former president Trump’s insistence that Biden speed up the exit because “getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do.” So eager are Republicans to rewrite history that they are literally erasing it. Tonight, Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel noticed that the Republican National Committee has scrubbed from its website a section celebrating the deal the Trump administration cut with the Taliban and praising Trump for taking “the lead in peace talks as he signed a historic peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which would end America’s longest war.”

Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who served in Afghanistan and who opposed Biden’s plan for withdrawal, has been highlighting the past statements of pro-exit Republicans who are now attacking the president. “Do not let my party preten[d] to be outraged by this,” he tweeted. “Both the [Republicans] and [Democrats] failed here. Time for Americans to put their country over their party.”

substack
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2021 10:16 pm
"What would I do?"

I like the model of Afghanistan in recent years, where a small US presence trained the locals to fight for their own country. Credit where credit is due: I believe it was Barack Obama who came up with that policy.

I would have gone ahead with the invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan, but immediately after toppling the existing governments I would have drawn down our forces and transitioned to a small military presence that trained the locals to fight for their own country.

I would continue to keep training the locals to fight for their country forever.

I would have gone ahead with Libya too. And also done Iran and Syria. As above, after toppling the existing governments I would have established a small permanent force to train the locals to fight for their own country.

Turkey really irks me. If I could find a way to do it I'd kick them out of NATO and then take them down too.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan are annoying, but probably not annoying enough to go to war with. I'd be a strong ally of India if they ever went to war with Pakistan however.
0 Replies
 
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2021 11:03 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
In my opinion Afghanistan was a mistake from the very beginning.

Were you one of the progressives who cheered for the 9/11 attacks?


maxdancona wrote:
There was no other way for this to end.

Wrong. We could have kept training the Afghan people to protect and defend themselves.


maxdancona wrote:
This is the "White Savior" story all over again.... the brown-skinned Afghanis need America and Britain to come in and save brown-skinned women from the brown-skinned men. This whole "save the women" story is truly ridiculous.

Are you going to help the Taliban splash acid in the faces of six year old girls to punish them for learning how to read?


maxdancona wrote:
It is not our culture. It is not our country. We have no right to tell them what to do.

Wrong. We have every right to force inferior cultures to adopt civilized norms.


maxdancona wrote:
We should never have been there in the first place.

Wrong. We have every right to protect ourselves when your terrorist buddies slaughter thousands of Americans in New York City.


maxdancona wrote:
Many Afghans (the people who actually own the country) choose the Taliban over the American installed government.

They would have been killed had they not done so.


maxdancona wrote:
Now the Afghans have their country back.

Wrong. They just lost their country.


maxdancona wrote:
They don't need us to save them.

Wrong. They do need us to save them.


maxdancona wrote:
They will figure this out on their own.

Wrong. Now they will suffer under tyranny.


maxdancona wrote:
This was actually one of the best outcomes we could have hoped for.

Progressives suck.


maxdancona wrote:
The takeover by the Taliban (which was always going to happen)

Wrong. It happened only because Traitor Joe abandoned our ally to the enemy.
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